A FOOTBALL club which stretches back more than a century is fighting for survival through the coronavirus pandemic.

Grassroots football clubs have been forced to shut again as part of the second national lockdown, a move which has been widely criticised nationally.

Now Daisy Hill Football Club has launched a fundraiser in order to replace the income lost from matchday fixtures ­— while at Breightmet United the committee and managers have been putting their own money into the club during these testing times.

And one of the country's oldest amateur clubs, Eagley FC, has also been hard by the pandemic.

Daisy Hill Football Club fundraising page pulls no punches about the impact of coronavirus on its finances, stating the club is raising money "to help with essential, major building repairs and renovations, and to survive through the uncertainty of the Covid19 pandemic".

It adds that the club is under threat and its loss would be blow to history of the community it serves.

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Club secretary Bob Naylor said:”Over the years we’ve managed to keep things ticking over and keep our head about water, but we’ve never been in a surplus of funds.

“During lockdown we will be losing income from our matchday fixtures yet we still have to pay for ground rent, water and electricity bills during this time.

“There are some major repairs we need to complete at the club building, if we don’t fix the joist then we won’t be able to use the club room.

“We’ve had to set up a fundraiser in order to get the money we need to pay for the repairs.

“We would need to fundraise to help cover these costs in normal circumstances, but with the loss of all of our income as well, without the crowdfunder the small amount of money we do have to keep us afloat would disappear extremely quickly.

“Clubs like ours are under a lot of financial pressure, obviously professional clubs get bigger and better sponsorship but we don’t have that at our level.

“This football club is so important to the community, we have been here for over 100 years and there’s no other club like it in Westhoughton.”

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Committee members and managers at Breightmet United have been putting their own money into the club as parents also feel the pinch during covid, with the national lockdown forcing non-elite football clubs to shut for four weeks.

James Moscrow, junior secretary at Breightmet United said: “It is a massive shame that we have had to shutdown again, we had kids in training on Wednesday in actual tears saying they wanted to carry on playing.

“We have had quite a few parents contact us saying they are struggling during this time with the covid pandemic, so the club has announced they are not going to charge subs.

“We have been doing some fundraising but it has been mainly down to the committee, there are about nine on the committee and we and the manages have put money towards the club."

He urged people to support grassroots football when it is back on .

James said: “We normally do a massive firework display where we would get quite a big chunk of money, which unfortunately we cannot do. There are so many events which have been put on hold for us which is a massive shame.

“We never charge anyone to watch but we do have on bacon butties, brews and that’s how we normally make the money for the club.

“This year, because we have extra kids teams, we have had to hire pitches this year which is an extra cost and we still have to pay the rent and bills."

James said grassroots football clubs were vital to communities in helping the personal development of young people.

He explained: “Grassroots football is so important. Breightmet is a deprived area and there are kids on the street, and now they have nowhere to go.

“Our under-14s team has upped their training  sessions to try and keep kids off the street, we are trying loads of things to help get kids off the street, starting new football teams and now we are in a four week lockdown again.

“I understand the concept of bubbles but the children are outside, I would understand if they were inside playing football, I’ve not had in my team one case, we sanitise all the footballs all the cones, we have put extra money in for all this and now this.”

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Colin Whaley, head of the football section at Eagley FC, said the community can play a vital part in helping these community clubs pull through the pandemic.

He said: "All the local clubs seemed to have done a great job following FA guidelines and implementing risk assessments, and match day directives, but sadly that doesn’t now seem enough to keep us all playing safely.

"We understand the seriousness of the virus and why it’s come to this but it’s a shame all non professional football cart blanche has had to suffer, especially after the effort that’s been put in. Right through from our junior under 8s to senior players, they all play for one reason because they love it! That’s what grassroots football is all about, and not because they have to ­— so to stop them all from doing so seems such a shame and must have a detrimental effect the longer it continues.

"Financially, we have too been hit hard.

"We are lucky enough to have a complex clubhouse and bar, for our members and visitors to enjoy, but this relies not only on match day income but more so on fundraising and social events to survive, both of which we’ve missed massively.

"The bar isn’t cheap to run and maintain, and because of the restrictions it’s not been open for weeks now, and who knows what the future for this will be. But the bills still need paying and the pitches maintaining, and without the bar income this is getting tougher, week by week especially when all we have to rely on is the players subscriptions and any help/donations we receive.

"So we have asked our members to please continue paying their subs through the lockdown, which they have kindly all done, but if it extends any longer than the month how can we expect them to keep doing this when some families are in hardship themselves, and without any football in return."

The football was club was due to open a cafe in the clubhouse for the community but that has had to be put on hold.

Colin said: "Hopefully it will be open soon.

"Everything just seems really difficult at the moment and we just hope it doesn’t go beyond the month, but even then if we go back into the Tier system, we will still have the hospitality restrictions, and without financial help I don’t know how long we can survive."

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He said community support was vital.

"One way people could help us would be to enter our ‘100 club’ which we have recently set up to help us manage. It costs £5 per number per month, where if you buy two numbers you receive a third free, with a cash prize of first and second paid monthly.

"It is run by volunteer Brenda Catterall," said Colin

Grassroots sports will be among the first areas of society to reopen once it is deemed safe, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said after widespread criticism of the decision to shut down children’s sport during the coronavirus lockdown .

Mark Arthur, the chief executive of Yorkshire county cricket club, said the approach the Government had taken on grassroots sport was “illogical”.

“I don’t think the Government understands sport,” he said during a Yorkshire sport webinar.

“I would like the Government to understand that sport has a real job to do in society and that’s what does bring people together, and it should trust sport a little bit more to deal with some of the social issues this country faces.

“Robbie Savage did a podcast yesterday questioning why children can mix together in a classroom but they can’t play football together outside in the open air. Some of the decisions the Government have been making have been illogical and I would like to see some proper dialogue going on when we get out of this pandemic about how sport can play a major part in inclusion within our society.”